Lakers feed off energy from Jordan Clarkson ejection in win over Heat

first_imgLOS ANGELES >> The moment usually coincided with the Lakers squandering leads and showing frustration. This time, the Lakers showed some fight in the third quarter in more ways than one.Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson and Miami guard Goran Dragic received ejections after the two tussled nearly underneath the basket. After Clarkson defended Dragic with some light shoves, the Miami guard pushed back harder. Clarkson then pushed Dragic to the ground. Before a full melee could break out, Lakers forward Luol Deng held Clarkson back while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stepped in between Dragic. Shortly after, Miami guard James Johnson tried approaching the Lakers bench.While the sequence sparked ejections for Clarkson and Dragic, it added the kind of spice needed to ensure the Lakers held on to a 127-100 victory over the Heat on Friday at Staples Center. “It’s the heat of the game and stuff happens through the game,” said Clarkson, who had an otherwise quiet night with four points on two-of-four shooting. “We’re not going to back down from guys.” After Clarkson defended Dragic with some light shoves, the Miami guard pushed back harder. Clarkson then pushed Dragic to the ground. Before a full melee could break out, Deng held Clarkson back while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stepped in to deter Dragic.“It was one of those things where he was running at me,” Clarkson said. “I didn’t know what he was going to do. So I put my hands up to defend myself. I went back to stuff Kobe [Bryant] told me about an incident he had. He said to never have your hands down in case something happens.”What happened depended on the coach. Though Walton contended he only saw the full sequence after watching the replay on an iPhone afterward, the Lakers’ coach downplayed the incident.“A couple of players pushing each other,” Walton said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”It might be a big enough deal for Clarkson to receive a league-mandated suspension for Sunday’s game against Orlando at Staples Center. It seems safe to say Spoelstra thinks that way. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img “There’s no way he should be thrown out of that situation for just taking an elbow to the face and getting up, not even necessarily defending himself, just getting up,” Spoelstra said of Dragic. “But, at that point, it’s an eight-point game and we just pretty much let it go from there.”The moment may have not fueled any run. The Lakers led 76-68 with 5:29 left when the ejections happened. After squandering double-digit leads lately, including on Thursday in Portland and on Dec. 22 against Miami, the Lakers did not allow the Heat to feed off of any of the electricity from the altercation. The Lakers closed out the third quarter with a 90-79 lead.The Lakers (14-26) then collected a win by storming out to a strong fourth quarter after suffering a 3-16 stretch partly because of a failure to secure tight games in the waning moments. The Lakers held Miami to one field goal for a four-minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter. Lakers reserve guard Lou Williams scored 20 of his team-leading 24 points in the fourth quarter. And the Lakers outrebounded the Heat, 62-41.“It’s never a fight. You kind of push each other, you get held back and you go back to your bench and lose money,” Deng said in an amused tone. “But when something like that happens, one team is going to be more aggressive. I think we were the aggressor afterwards.”The Lakers fulfilled all this against a Heat (11-27) team that fielded key absences to starting center Hassan Whiteside (retinal contusion in right eye) and forward Justice Winslow (right shoulder). Still, plenty of signs suggested the Lakers could have had a sluggish night.The Lakers arrived in Los Angeles on 2 a.m. on Friday after suffering Thursday’s loss in Portland. Yet, the Lakers opened the game scoring 10 unanswered points. Despite nursing a cold in recent days, Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists.After nursing bicep tendinitis that kept him out of Thursday’s game in Portland, Lakers forward Luol Deng had 19 points and 14 rebounds in what marked his fifth double-double of the season. After nursing a sprained ring finger on his left hand, Lakers forward Julius Randle added 15 points. Lakers rookie forward Brandon Ingram also tied a season-high in points (17).“Our defense was really good in three of the four quarters tonight,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “In the second quarter, they got whatever they wanted and was the aggressor on each possession. But besides that, we did a good job of talking things out and contesting jump shots. That’s why we try to emphasize defense every day.”The Lakers also entered Friday’s game with a 8-15 record against teams with at least a .500 record, including upset victories against Golden State, the Clippers and Oklahoma City. Too bad the Lakers have also gone 5-11 against teams below a .500 record, including squandering double-digit leads to Sacramento, Miami, Orlando and Portland.“When we play a certain way and unselfish brand of basketball and do little things well, we’re capable,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said beforehand. “We’re good enough to give ourselves chances to win against most teams in this league. But obviously we’re not at a place yet where we’re doing that consistently. That’s going to come over time. It also shows if we’re not ready to play, any team in the league can beat us.”The Lakers showed they were ready to play, both before and after an ejection that ignited the team and its crowd.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *